Category Archives: Self-Published

Play In the World, Park SangSook & Seo JiAe

Google Translate makes poetry. Park SanSook’s and Seo JiAe’s Play In the World about page is transmuted thusly:

Glitter trees and shadows, people have their own space, to travel through the pictures at the moment I would like to keep for a long time.

By turns banal and sublime, Play in the World is Park’s and Seo’s monthly visual diary. There is no theme, no self-assigned project and no over arching subject each month. The zine is a day to day record of the “small but valuable.” It is a constant question: What have I seen? Or, rather: What have we seen?
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untitled (Annual Image Book), Go Dae Gun, Yoo Byung Seo & Lee Yun Ho


After interviewing the crew at Corners, Jimin and I took a cab over to The Book Society. During the brief taxi ride I tried to describe what made a book interesting to me. The essentials of my explanation was that I liked highly idiosyncratic personal photographic visions published in object like book form. At The Book Society, she pulled a small volume off of the small publishers and self-published shelf and, holding it out, said, “I think you’ll like this one.”
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A Forest Three Meters Squared, Yuri An

As the youngest descendant of all dying things
am here.

This is the last line from Yuri An’s poem “I Will, I Was / For My Death” and an apt summation of A Forest Three Meters Squared. The poems and photographs in the book are heavy with worry. An anxiety is pervasive–and yet there is also hopeful desire and affirmative longing.

The photographs worry at the edges of the quotidian and find dark images beneath the surface. A dark dock stretches out into a lake, the light in the sky reaching down in a delta shape echoing and refuting the darkness of the dock. A dark frame with an circular image fragment at its center, below it a sunset with the circular fragment missing from its center. A tangle of dense greenery bursting forward. The mottled reflection of light on water, a dark band of shadow cutting across it. The red moon hangs in a dark sky partly obscured by tree branches. A plane screams across the sky leaving a dark contrail to trace its path inevitably bound to dissipate and disappear. All the images underscored with the tessellated jaggedness of a video grab–suggestion of a continuity interrupted.

The photographs sit at the book’s center. From one direction the poetry can be read in Korean. Flip the book over and from the opposite direction the poetry can be read in English. Either way, one ends at the photographs in the center. At the center is the visual image.

An asks in the book’s preface, “when all people shared the same language did they understand each other? Did they share the same dream?” Living in a strange place, away from home and distanced by language, An’s fears spring from opportunity and possibility as much as from strangeness. Complete homogeneity no more guarantees intimacy than does the foreign guarantee alienation. A shared language is not understanding. An image shared is not an idea conveyed. A memory shared is not forever; how does the tree share your secret?

From “Irreconcilable Time,” the first poem in the book:

For some time, I
have locked up time
instilled your memories in my room
Sealed traces, airtight
Living moments, captured, freshly picked
What you and I exchanged

I can’t say that I understand the poems (that is as likely my own failing as any issue with the translation) or that I have understood the book’s particulars. I do understand the longing and the fear. I have my own room in which I seal traces. The moments once living, once freshly picked, now captured. But, they’ll be gone soon enough.

A Forest Three Meters Squared
Written, photographed and designed by An (email)
Proofread by:
Kyoung mee choi (sic)
Eunsoo Lee
Jinah Lee
Andrew McCullough
Noga Harel
Production: Gerrit Rietveld Academie

London & Berlin; Eunhye Kim

Day two of jury duty and I’m still sitting and waiting. Action is promised soon: I’ll either be on a jury or dismissed… So, another review ahead of schedule.

Today I brought two small books by Eunhye Kim to pass the time. These slim volumes are the kind of quick and to the point books that I love. I attended a workshop on the photobook several years back (TA’d actually) run by Ken Schles and Jeffrey Ladd. Each participant was asked to bring a couple of books that they liked. I brought a handmade book of abstractions by a Japanese photographer and Paul Kooiker slim Seminar. Both present small “i” ideas and do so without fanfare or ostentation.

Both Berlin and London are like that: simple, direct and easy. We have straightforward urban landscapes of two cities printed in rough risograph on cheap paper and saddle stitched with two staples.

Each book is comprised of street photographs made in the titular city. They tend towards the middle distance. They have the air of casual snapshots but suffused with formal compositions. The photographs are quiet; there are no spectacles, no confrontations, no human drama. Winogrand this is not.

In Berlin, the photographs on the front and back covers are the strongest, presenting a promise that the rest of the photographs cannot live up to. Some aspire but none match.

London is much the same, though there are a number of gems within the book: a group of young men playing football in a park; two flower pots on two windowsills; a pair of images following an old woman as she approaches and unlocks her door; a middle aged couple pausing in the middle of a walk with their dogs in the park; a family walking through a park in matching outfits.

These are not masterpieces, but they make no claim to be. At the moment, they are welcome diversions.

Eunhye Kim
Published by small thing
Printed by CORNERS
Eunhye Kim
Published by Small thing
Printed by CORNERS

31 days 807.3km; Oh SeBeom

This book is an escape, and I need one. I am in Kings County Superior Court serving on Jury Duty. Thus far, I am doing little more than sitting and waiting. Having brought Oh SeBeom’s 31 Days 807.3km was a good decision as it provides welcome distraction.

31 days 807.3km is a small volume, roughly the size of a Moleskin notebook, chronicling a 31 day 801.3km trip across northern Spain. This book is one part of a larger project that includes web and video components as well. The project as a whole is one part again of Oh’s overarching one man project: World of DDanjit I cannot read any of the site’s text, but it seems to be a cataloging of the world, something to which I can relate.

31 days 807.3km is broken into roughly three equal sections. The first is a reproduction of Oh’s Moleskin journal pages written during the trip. It is from these journals that the book takes its size and shape, imitating a Moleskin notebook. This section has feeling. The handwriting has smudged and we can see text bleeding through from the backside of each page. As we read one experience we anticipate what is to come and reflect on what happened previously. This text is, obviously enough, in Korean with bits of copied text and web URLs in English. As I cannot read this text, I will say only that the reproduction of the notebook pages feels right; I feel like I’m being stealing into someone’s private thoughts (that were left laying about so I might buy them…). I assume that if I could read the text, this is what I would find, the starts and stops of experience.

The second section is a series of photographs that reprise the travelogue in visual form. The bulk of the photographs are landscapes; many are the well worn trope of a road or track receding towards the horizon. There are few people or buildings. The photographs are like walking: one foot in front of the other, slowly building into a journey of 807.3 kilometers. Several photographs do stand above and are absolutely beautiful in their atmospheric quality. One, in particular, grabs my attention: in the foreground there are mounds of dirt that look like Korean tombs but are nothing more than piles of fill, in the middle ground a line of trees extends halfway across horizon with the last few trees wind blown back, and in the background half screened by the trees a small town gives way to a blue horizon beneath a blue sky. The photographs are all horizontal, printed full page, two to a spread so that one must turn the book sideways to see them properly. There are two exceptions to this: a vertical of a church is run halfway (and could have been edited out) and the closing horizontal image of the sea that is run double truck also and forces the reader to turn the book back to its normal orientation. It is a nice transition.

The third section we return to text. Days, dates, locations and distances are in large blue lettering overlaid on top of background text describing the journey. Facts and figures; cold and hard. The design amplifies the content. We end with a blue map dotted with (Google) map pins.

We have three travelogues that reinterpret the same trip through different filters. We begin with the personal experience: direct, smudged, imperfect, tangential. One event or thought bleeding between past and future experiences. Our journey is next mediated by a machine eye. We have facts and visual clues but truth is still elusive. These facts are up for interpretation and reinterpretation. The suggest but cannot define. We end with a journey distilled into fact: distances traveled, cities visited, dates, times.

The journal pages I cannot understand, but I understand the idea of a journey that they embody. When I travel, I keep similar notebooks. The photographs present less a specific place for me than a rich suggestive vein of possibility. The facts and figures leave me cold and I can do little but flip through. It is the hand written notes and photographs that hold my attention. Neither provides me literal facts but each presents a journey taken and suggests journeys yet to be taken.

It all makes sitting in this windowless, fluorescent lit, cavernous room more bearable.

31 days 807.3km
Oh SeBeom